Highlights from August 2023
President's Message:
Maximizing Stormwater Capture to Increase
Local Drinking Water Supplies
In a month that historically gets 0.1 inches of rain, August brought a surprising 2.56 inches to Orange County. Due to decades of sound planning, regional partnerships, and investments in infrastructure, OCWD maximized stormwater capture efforts, ensuring not a drop of water was lost to the ocean. The District has also increased water storage behind Prado Dam to more than 3.4 billion gallons of water.

The arrival of Tropical Storm Hilary bolstered our drinking water supply as the rain received was captured in our managed aquifer recharge system, which will eventually percolate into the Orange County Groundwater Basin – a vital resource managed by OCWD that serves 2.5 million people.

Through a historic cooperative agreement with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, a large volume of water can be stored behind Prado Dam and released at rates that the District can capture, further expanding use of local water resources. The amount of storage currently held behind the dam is enough to serve 100,000 people for one year and is valued at an estimated $12.6 million, equivalent to the cost of imported water. This reinforces the need to invest in reliable, local water sources.

OCWD is well positioned to maximize water supply for the region, during wet or dry times. Our long history of active water management and investments have ensured a sustainable groundwater basin that will serve generations to come.
National Water Quality Month
We couldn't let National Water Quality Month go by without highlighting the amazing work of OCWD staff who provide safe, clean water to its communities. OCWD is committed to providing exceptional water quality to the 19 cities and retail water districts it serves in north and central Orange County. Given its commitment to manage and protect the Orange County Groundwater Basin, OCWD implements rigorous water quality sampling, monitoring and testing programs to ensure that when water is delivered to you, it meets all state and federal drinking water standards.

Our state-of-the-art lab, the Philip L. Anthony Water Quality Laboratory, tests for more than 500 compounds, many more than what's required by state and federal laws and regulations. It tests water from approximately 1,500 locations throughout the basin, analyzes more than 20,000 samples each year and reports more than 400,000 results. Our expert staff also monitor constituents of emerging concern, which helps us identify potential water quality issues and allows us to act quickly and proactively to address them.

Next time you’re ready to quench your thirst, look no further than your tap, and take a moment to appreciate the breadth of monitoring and testing that’s done on every drop so you can enjoy a refreshing, high-quality taste of H2O! 💧
OC Water Summit: Finding Reliability
Today, we find ourselves amidst a critical juncture, grappling with the effects of past drought, aging infrastructure, and policy and regulatory challenges that threaten the availability and sustainability of our water supply. What got us here? And, how can we forge innovative solutions to increase Orange County’s water supply for future generations?
 
Join master of ceremonies Fritz Coleman along with hundreds of business professionals, elected officials, academics, and water leaders on October 13, 2023 at the Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California as the 15th Annual OC Water Summit explores Finding Reliability.

Session Topics:
  • Drought or Missed Opportunities?
  • Are Infrastructure Funds the New Lottery?
  • Is It Fair to Blame Climate Change for Everything?
  • What's Our Water Supply Future?

Sponsorship Opportunities: By sponsoring the OC Water Summit, you are investing in water reliability for Southern California. A variety of sponsorship opportunities are available to meet your organization's strategic goals. Please complete your sponsorship commitment form no later than Friday, September 22 to guarantee inclusion in all sponsorship benefits.

Tickets: An individual ticket is $150, which includes continental breakfast, buffet lunch, self-parking, and event materials. The price increases to $175 on September 15, so secure your seat today!

The OC Water Summit is proudly hosted by the Orange County Water District and the Municipal Water District of Orange County. For more information and to register, please visit the OC Water Summit website.
Recent Happenings
OCWD in the News
The Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) was featured in the Spectrum News 1 story "California seeks to introduce purified wastewater to drinking supplies". Join Executive Director of Operations Mehul Patel, as he takes viewers on a tour of the world's largest water recycling facility.

Recharge Planning Manager Adam Hutchinson spoke with the San Francisco Chronicle and Director of Recharge and Wetland Operations Ben Smith interviewed with KCAL 9/CBS 2 about OCWD’s stormwater capture efforts. The District has more than 3.4 billions of water stored behind Prado Dam. This water eventually gets released at rates that the District can capture and recharge into the Orange County Groundwater Basin.
OCWD Staff in the Community
Lisa Haney, OCWD's Executive Director of Planning and Natural Resources, was invited to speak at the California Miss Earth Pageant. She presented OCWD’s mission of creating a sustainable groundwater supply for drinking water while protecting the environment and how these young women can use specific outreach efforts to enhance the impact of their platforms. The purpose of the pageant is to empower young women to speak on environmental issues that inspire them by developing an environmental platform, promoting civic leadership, and competing for educational scholarships.
GWRS Wins Statewide Award for Expanding Water Reuse
The GWRS final expansion project won the 2023 Capital Project Award at the annual California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA) conference. A joint project of OCWD and OC San, the GWRS was recognized for recycling 100% of OC San’s reclaimable wastewater flows, which produces up to 130 million gallons of water a day. That's enough to serve nearly one million people in north and central Orange County.

“The completion of the GWRS reflects a decades-long effort to invest in a more resilient water supply,” said OCWD Board President Cathy Green. “We appreciate the ongoing partnership we have with OC San and look forward to continued collaboration in the future.”
North & South Basin Quarterly Update Published
OCWD is committed to working with the community to solve threats to groundwater. We've published our July 2023 Quarterly Groundwater Cleanup Update, featuring activities in and around the North Basin (affecting portions of Fullerton, Anaheim, Placentia, and Buena Park) and South Basin (affecting portions of Santa Ana, Tustin and Irvine).
Missed our AI in Water Webinar?
There is a lot of buzz around artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) these days, with a broad range of tools available to use. These applications can help water utilities improve predicative analytics, insights, and data management and ultimately optimize day-to-day operations and long-term planning.

OCWD is proactively engaged in this subject matter and currently researching and piloting areas where AI can support District operations.
We recently hosted a webinar all about AI and its potential risks and challenges, and emerging technology and opportunities that can be implemented in the water sector. Thank you to our wonderful speakers, Megan Plumlee, Ph.D., P.E., Research Director, OCWD; Kate Newhart, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering, United States Military Academy West Point; and Kyle Thompson, Ph.D., P.E., Reuse Lead Technologist & National PFAS Lead, Carollo Engineers who shared great insights and input into this exciting topic.

If you missed it or would like to watch again, please take a look at the recording. 👀💻

(Spoiler alert: AI is here to support enhanced water operations, not take over our jobs)
Cathy Green for ACWA President: Final Call to Vote

OCWD President Cathy Green currently serves as ACWA Vice President, a position she was elected to in December 2021 for a two-year term. She has served as an active member of ACWA since 2012, including serving on ACWA’s executive committee, the ACWA Board, and the Region 10 Board. She has also held positions of ACWA Region 10 chair and vice chair and served on several ACWA committees including the water quality, energy, and state legislative committees.

Cathy's vision for ACWA is to fully embrace its motto of ‘Bringing Water Together' by unifying ACWA members and collaborating with stakeholders to find effective solutions to the challenges we face. The ACWA Election Committee unanimously endorsed longtime OCWD Director Cathy Green as the preferred candidate to serve as its President for its next two-year term, and agencies throughout the state have also shown their support. To learn more about Cathy Green’s experience and qualifications, visit her webpage.
OCWD Recruitment: General Manager
With more than 40 years of experience in water resource management, OCWD General Manager Mike Markus has achieved many milestones in his career – implementing multi-faceted, large-scale projects including the world’s largest water recycling facility, administering innovative, award-winning programs, and managing the design and construction of over $1.5 billion of facilities for OCWD. Mike is now gearing up for another remarkable milestone – retirement. Since 2007, Mike has served at the helm of OCWD, becoming only the sixth GM in the District’s history.
 
OCWD is recruiting for its next General Manager to lead the organization on highly complex issues that ensure a continued healthy groundwater basin and a reliable local water supply. The ideal candidate must be a visionary and strategic leader, manage a high-performing organization, and maintain a culture of collaboration inside and outside the organization.
 
Review the job description and brochure for more information.
Sustainably Managing the OC Groundwater Basin
OCWD is one of the few groundwater management agencies able to track the groundwater basin’s “water budget” on a monthly basis. This information allows the District to make more informed management decisions about future water supplies and pumping. View the infographic below to see the groundwater basin’s storage, recharge, and pumping levels, through the end of July 2023.
Thirsty for More Information?
Learn about OCWD's role in providing a safe, reliable, local water supply by attending an event (or asking us to come to yours), webinar or tour. Individuals and groups are invited to tour the award-winning GWRS and other District facilities. Through our active speakers bureau program, you may request for our expert staff to go out into the community to speak to organizations and schools, as well as local, national and international conferences. 


Virtual GWRS Tour - Friday, October 6 at 10:00 a.m.

OC Water Summit: Finding Reliability - Friday, October 13 from 7:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
The Orange County Water District manages the local groundwater basin that provides 85% of the water supply for 19 cities and retail water districts in north and central Orange County, serving 2.5 million people. Guided by its commitment to sound planning and investment, high standards for water reliability, exceptional water quality, environmental stewardship, sound financial management, and transparency, OCWD has proactively implemented initiatives to protect and increase local water supplies. OCWD replenishes the basin, prevents seawater intrusion, and protects Orange County’s rights to Santa Ana River water.
President Cathy Green
First Vice President Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E.
Second Vice President Van Tran, Esq.
Valerie Amezcua
Natalie Meeks
Dina L. Nguyen, Esq.
Kelly E. Rowe, CFM, P.G., C.E.G., C.H.
Stephen R. Sheldon
Bruce Whitaker
Roger C. Yoh, P.E.
For more information, please visit www.ocwd.com and follow @OCWaterDistrict on social media.